A Carnet de Passage is a document that allows you to cross international borders with a vehicle and avoid paying customs charges. It is basically a promise that you will take the vehicle out of the country when you leave, or risk hefty penalties.
The carnet lists comprehensive details on your vehicle and its value, and can be obtained from the local automobile club in your country. Often a bank deposit is also needed.
The carnet de passage for a vehicle is the commonest and best-known, but there are other types of carnet for other equipment. Professional musicians or photographers who travel with a lot of equipment, or a business person bringing goods for use at a trade show, may require one of these. The general rule is that if you want to bring anything expensive or unusual, you should check with the destination country's embassy beforehand about what documentation may be required.
Countries that require carnets
Not all countries require carnets, but the following do:
- Central African Republic
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
Asia / Middle East
- Singapore (except for Peninsular Malaysia-registered and Thai registered vehicles)
- Sri Lanka
- United Arab Emirates
How to get one
International driving agencies often offer Carnet de Passage services. In Europe the ADAC can provide one for you. Estimated costs are around €300 and there is a minimum guarantee fee of €3000 which you get back after importing the vehicle back into the country where it is registered.